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Get a gas safety check done, and ensure there's a copy of the certificate left in property.
Get an electrical safety test carried out on the fixed wiring installation. If your letting the property furnished with appliances then get them tested too. Unlike the gas safety test an electrical safety test is not a legal requirement, but it is an extremely sensible move to protect yourself from being sued in the event of an accident.
Get an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). This is a legal requirement. If you've recently bought the property then you may have one already. Check before spending the money on another test!
Carry out a risk assessment on the property. Walk all around the property and gardens and look for potential risk of slips, trips and falls. It is YOUR responsibility to ensure a reasonable level of safety, so if there are things like stairs with no hand rails or loose flooring then get it fixed before your local council decides to make an example of you. Join a deposit protection scheme.
Landlords cannot hold back money out of a tenant's deposit for issues that are considered to be fair wear and tear. For example, if a tenant has been living in a house for 3 years then it would be considered fair wear and tear for there to be some marks on the walls and to have carpets that have lost their lustre somewhat, but holes in walls and cigarette burns in carpets would not be fair wear and tear.
Carry out a video inventory. This is much quicker and much less subjective than a written inventory. Burn a copy to disc and get the tenant to sign it as a true record. There is a form for this purpose in our free tenancy pack. Take meter readings and get the tenant to sign to acknowledge they are correct. Again there's a form for this in the downloadable tenancy pack.
Inform your mortgage company. If you don't have a buy-to-let mortgage on the property you let out you are supposed to let your mortgage company know that you are going to let the property out. This will give them an excuse to charge you a fee or up your interest rate, and for this reason many people don't bother to tell them.
Inform your insurance company. It would be very foolish not to get a landlord buildings insurance policy, even if you weren't going to let your mortgage company know about your let. Your domestic insurance policy will not cover you, so get it changed. Let the local authority know when the tenants have moved in - you don't want to be billed for council tax when they should be paying it.
Make sure there are contact details for you prominently displayed at the property. It would be wise to laminate them and fix them up in the kitchen.
If you have a maintenance contract such as British Gas Care Cover then make sure the policy number and their contact number is prominently displayed too.
Make sure there are instruction manuals for the boiler and all appliances in the property.
Last but definitely not least, properly reference all prospective tenants. You would be mad not to, as you wouldn't give a £100,000 or more to just anybody without knowing a bit about them, and this is what you are doing if you let them sign a tenancy agreement without a reference. Also if they damage your property and you need to make a claim then your insurance company may well use the lack of a professional reference to avoid paying out. The tenant pays for the referencing procedure, so it doesn't even cost you a penny.